Tag Archives: Carnal Christians

My Thoughts on the “I” Cycle – Part 2

The “I and God” Phase

I am continuing my interpretation of the “I Cycle,” a theory about spiritual development created by Clyde Pilkington from the ministry StudyShelf. Here is a link to Mr. Pilkington’s video (Clyde Pilkington – The I-Cycle). The “I and God” Phase is discussed during 2:10 – 4:00 in the video.

Here is my own post where I summarized the whole cycle (I-Cycle Summary).

In the last post, I looked at the starting point of the cycle, the old-creation “I” phase. That phase is where people feel that the world revolves around themselves and that they are entitled to have their desires met.

Some people live their entire lives in that phase. But others move beyond, and come to a point where they realize that they themselves do not have the power to overcome all of life’s challenges. They realize that they are going to need God’s help to get through certain circumstances. Thus, they enter the “I and God” phase. I will share my thoughts on this phase based on testimonies I have read and people I have personally known.

“I and God” believers are still, for the most part, making their own decisions for their lives, and going about their business as they would without their faith. However, they also keep God in their minds and see Him as being there for them when they need help. They may pray regularly, attend church, and read books about spirituality to see how God can help them. However, their faith is likely to be somewhat of a private aspect of their lives, and they probably do not talk about their faith to everyone they encounter.

These people do not like to be intruded upon. Their minds tend to filter out the words of preachers who would try to make them feel guilty, or tell them that they have to change their lives in some radical way. They are easily turned off by pushy religious folks. “I and God” believers often think that their religious life needs to be properly balanced with other aspects of life. When they read the Bible, they probably see it through the lenses of their own moral judgments, and more or less feel vindicated by the Bible’s admonitions, though they may be open to adjustment on some matters of character or attitude.

The “I and God” Christians are a widely varied group in terms of their spiritual walk. Some of them may be mature spiritually. However, others have a tendency to be viewed as “lukewarm,” “carnal,” or “baby Christians.” They could be seen as trying to get the benefits of being a believer without totally committing their lives to Christ.

Among “I and God” believers, lifestyles vary widely. Some of them are still very much living however they want to. However, my personal feeling is that their attitudes have changed from the previous phase. Instead of entitlement and being the center of the universe, their attitudes shift to rationalization. On one hand, they perceive that there are acceptable and unacceptable ways to live. However, whether consciously or subconsciously, they rationalize to say that the way they want to live is morally acceptable. Thus, they see themselves as obedient to God while basically living however they want.

But there are other Christians in this group who are making efforts to live as they honestly perceive the Bible to teach. However, they may be troubled by a lack of self-control. They feel bad when they do something wrong, but the effort they make to follow through with repentances may seem somewhat lacking in fervor.

However, I also think there is a third group of believers within the “I and God” phase. These people are very self-disciplined, and are very much staying away from moral vices. They feel that they are good Christians by virtue of their self-controlled and motivated natures, and thus, even though they are still following their own ambitions, they perceive God’s approval to be upon their lifestyles.

There are some believers who remain in the “I and God” phase for the rest of their lives, and I am not trying to say that there is anything inherently “wrong” with that, for I believe it is God who determines what phase a person will reach in this life.

However, if people move beyond the “I and God” phase, it is often prompted by adversity or temptation which they feel they cannot overcome unless they completely surrender their lives to God. When they come to that point, they enter the “God and I” phase of the “I-Cycle.” We will look at that phase next time.

 

My Thoughts on the “I” Cycle – Part 1

The Old-Creation “I” Phase

I am doing a series on posts on the “I” Cycle, a theory about spiritual perception that was developed by Clyde Pilkington, who founded the ministry StudyShelf. I have recently come to believe that the “I” Cycle is an extremely powerful model for understanding the spiritual experiences of ourselves and those around us. I also believe it sheds new light on Scripture and reveals why the Biblical authors said some of the things they did.

In this post, I want to look at the starting point of the cycle, the old-creation “I” phase. Mr. Pilkington says,

Man starts his journey with the center of his world being himself. And as we move along, we begin to think that not only does the world revolve around us, but seemingly we sit on the throne of our own life . . . God is scarcely in our thoughts at all. If He is there, there is an attempt to keep Him at bay as we get older, because He’s confusing to us – He interferes with what we want to do. His thoughts bother us and trouble us (1:10 – 2:00).

It is sometimes perplexing how people, who seem to be nice, decent individuals, can suddenly act hateful or engage in very immoral behaviors. But I think what’s going on with these people is that they feel entitled to have their desires met.

Many of these people do not want to be hateful all the time; their priority is not to hurt others. They basically want to be nice people. But at the same time, they have urges and raging emotions, and they feel that it is their right to act upon these impulses. Seeing themselves as the center of the universe (whether consciously or subconsciously), their physical and emotional sensations are bigger than anything else in the world. Thus, when they are feeling something really intense inside, reasoning goes out the window.

You can try to tell people that some minor thing which ticked them off is not worth exploding over. You can try to point to devastating circumstances facing others in the world to put things in perspective. But suppose a person has a vision problem that makes everything in front of him look really big. You can try to tell him that the fly buzzing in front of him is small compared to Mount Everest, but he’s not focused on the size of Mount Everest at all. What he’s focused on is that fly in front of him which looks as big as a truck!

Some people in this phase are religious. But they are probably not focused on relationship with God. Rather, they probably associate religion with decent people and social order, and they want to be basically nice people after all. They may go to church because, that’s what they think good people do. Some of these folks may even become preachers, given that they see value in Christianity and want to promote it as a career, feeling that it would have benefit not only to others but to themselves as well.

However, they still see themselves as the center of the universe (although it’s probably somewhat subconscious at this phase). Why is it that we often hear about famous preachers who get caught in various scandals? Well, my view is that, it’s because many of those preachers still felt like it was their right to act upon their impulses; thus, they probably felt justified in living a double life. They preached against those behaviors because they thought that is what good preachers do, and they wanted to be good preachers. They probably perceived value in preaching against those sins, even though, in their personal lives, it was their right to act upon their impulses, which seem bigger and more important than anything else.

In the next post of this series, we will look at the phase “I and God,” where people come to realize that they truly need God’s help.

 

Here is the link to Clyde Pilkington’s video on the “I” Cycle:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0w53DgB9Fks